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CTU Propaganda Chief tries to censor Substance

After refusing to answer any questions from Substance, the leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union now seem to think that they can censor Substance reporters. On September 30, 2009, CTU propaganda chief Rose Maria Genova sent an amazing e-mail to me (as editor of Substance). The e-mail is printed below, but first some background.

For the past six years, Marilyn Stewart, President of the Chicago Teachers Union, has refused to talk with Substance or answer any questions from Substance. Chicago Teachers Union publicist Rose Maria Genova (above left) has gone from ignoring questions from Substance to demanding that Substance allow our reporters to be censored by the CTU bureaucracy. Genova has been lying for Marilyn Stewart since Stewart took office in August 2004, and the photograph above shows one of the more dramatic examples. The photograph above was taken at the CTU "Press Conference" hastily called on the evening of August 31, 2007, following the quick adjournment of the Friday night meeting of the CTU House of Delegates meeting, which had been debating the proposed 2007 - 2011 contract that Marilyn Stewart had negotiated. Genova in the above photograph is holding a CTU press release that announced the delegates had voted to approve the contract recommended by Stewart and her team. Actually, the delegates had done no such thing. A few minutes before the scene above, Marilyn Stewart had refused to allow the "No" votes to be called and counted during a heated House meeting which she adjourned before the controversial contract had even been discussed in full. Genova had printed up the press release announcing the "YES" vote before any vote had been taken, and at the time she was distributing it a loud demonstration was taking place outside the press conference room because of the refusal of Stewart to call for the "No" votes. A few minutes after the photograph above was taken, reporters left Marilyn Stewart behind and covered the real story of the night: the irate delegates who had opposed the contract and who had not been allowed to vote "No." Substance caption and photograph by George N. Schmidt.From August 2004 until May 2008, Stewart claimed that the reason she couldn't talk with Substance was that I had sued the union for breach of contract when Stewart fired me from my job as Director of School Security and Safety at CTU when she took office in August 2004. After I won my lawsuit for unlawful termination — and received a check for $160,000 signed by Stewart for back pay and interest — I continued to periodically send Stewart questions, either directly or through her "publicist", a women with no union experience named Rose Maria Genova. During that time, the CTU spent more than a quarter million dollars on lawyers defending Marilyn Stewart against unlawful termination lawsuits filed by her own employees, myself and six others. All of us won our cases, with mine being the most expensive to the union because Stewart and her aides had vowed they would never settle with me. As a result of their four-year stall, CTU not only had to pay all back pay, but they were also assessed $24,000 in statutory interest.

So by June 2008, the excuse that the union was in litigation with me had ended. But that didn't end the CTU stall against Substance. Marilyn Stewart has not answered one question raised by Substance since she first took office in August 2004. Now, after four months of ignoring several important questions I had asked, Ms. Genova has communicated with Substance. I'll share verbatim an e-mail sent to me on September 30, 2009:

As more than a dozen reporters leave the press conference being held by Marilyn Stewart on August 31, 2007, because of the protest by delegates who had not been allowed to cast a vote against Stewart's contract proposals, a group of Stewart's most interesting employees watched. Left to right (above): Traci Cobb Evans, CTU legislative director; Rose Maria Genova, CTU 'publicist'; John Ostenberg, CTU 'Chief of Staff''; and Jenny Celander, who does most of the work on the union's newspaper, the Chicago Union Teacher. One of the four above scabbed on a CTU strike, and the other three were never union members until Marilyn Stewart gave them more power in CTU than any delegate has. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.George, I understand that one of your employees Jim Vail did an "unauthorized"

interview with a member of CTU's staff. The protocol has been for the

past five years and continues to be that all media calls come through my

office. Please be advised that your employee did not identify himself as a

member of the media and did not indicate that his discussion with Dr.

Connee Fitch-Blanks was an interview. She thought she was responding to

questions from a CPS delegate.

Therefore, none of Dr. Connee's comments or discussion may be used in

any way within your publication. If you have any questions regarding

this, please let me know and I will put you in touch with our legal

department.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter. Rosemaria Genova

Rosemaria Genova, Press Secretary

Chicago Teachers Union

222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 400

Chicago, Illinois 60654-1016

Phone: 312-329-6250

Cell: 708-712-4629

Fax: 312-329-2550

E-mail: rosemariagenova@ctulocal1.com

Just to put the most recent Genova e-mail into the context of current events, Genova send me an e-mail as a "Reply" to an e-mail I had sent to her four months ago. After watching what had been taking place inside the House of Delegates following my election as CTU retiree delegate in January 2009, I wrote to Ms. Genova with a question -- both as a reporter and as a member of the union. She did not reply, but here is the question, more relevant now than it was back in June when I first wrote it:

CTU publicist Rose Maria Genova has refused to answer questions from Substance for more than six years. One recent group of questions (see article) asked for the specific authorization by means of which Marilyn Stewart has hired off-duty Chicago police officer to patrol the meeting of the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates and intimidate delegates from the schools on Stewart's orders. Since the questions were first asked by e-mail in June 2009, Genova has ignored them. Above, Genova tries to avoid questions from Substance editor George N. Schmidt outside a meeting of the Chicago City Council in 2007. Substance photo.

-----Original Message-----

From: Gnschmidt@aol.com [mailto:Gnschmidt@aol.com] Sent: Sunday, June 07, 2009 5:27 PM

To: Genova, Rosemaria

Subject: Questions

6/7/09

Rose Maria:

It was good to hear from you here. We will be working on a large number of stories during the next eight

weeks as SubsanceNews expands.

One that I am facing a deadline for right now involves the four

individuals who for some reason circulate during House of Delegate meetings without identifying themselves but pose as "security" when incidents are

provoked by the chair during the meetings. As you know, I served in the House for

the better part of 25 years (1974-1999) and was also at every House meeting

when I worked for the union (2001-2004). At no time -- no time -- did CTU ever

have unauthorized individuals on the floor of the House, especially

individuals who were apparently deputized to function in some capacity as

"security."

We have questions for an article on CTU operations we are preparing for publication on the Web and in print (Web deadline, June 8; print, June

10).

Above, one of at least three off-duty Chicago police officers who have been hired to intimidate and harass delegates inside the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates meetings since 2005. The above photo was taken at Plumbers Hall following the attempt by Marilyn Stewart to arrest former CTU President Deborah Lynch during the June 2005 House of Delegates meeting. Despite repeated requests from delegates and Substance, Stewart has refused to identify these individuals, who wear a name tag without a name on it that simply says (as above) "Security." During the June 2009 House of Delegates meeting, large numbers of delegates refused to allow the above individual and his colleagues to intimidate delegates who disagreed with Stewart during heated debates. The practice of placing plain clothes police officers inside CTU meetings is unprecedented, one of the many innovations of the Marilyn Stewart regime. Substance caption and photo by George N. Schmidt.1. How many individuals does CTU employe as "security" during CTU House

of Delegates meetings?

2. What are the names of those individuals?

3. Are those individuals Chicago police offiers? (If not, what is their basis for working as "security" at CTU?)

4. How much are these individuals paid? By whose authorization?

5. Where on the CTU Website or in other documents of the union was this unprecedented action proposed, voted on, authorized, or otherwise

legitimized?

George N. Schmidt

Editor, Substance

To date, CTU has not informed us at Substance, the delegates, or the members how many Chicago police officers are now lurking inside the House of Delegates meetings, how much they are paid, or how long they have been lurking. For the record, we're publishing a couple of pictures of them here so that the rest of our readers can share, too. 

Final edited version of this article posted at www.substancenews.net October 2, 2009, 7:00 a.m. CDT. If you choose to reproduce this article in whole or in part, or any of the graphical material included with it, please give full credit to SubstanceNews as follows: Copyright © 2009 Substance, Inc., www.substancenews.net. Please provide Substance with a copy of any reproductions of this material and we will let you know our terms — or you can take out a subscription to Substance (see red button to the right) and make a donation. We are asking all of our readers to either subscribe to the print edition of Substance (a bargain at $16 per year) or make a donation. Both options are available on the right side of our Home Page. For further information, feel free to call us at our office at 773-725-7502

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Comments:

October 1, 2009 at 5:15 PM

By: Kugler

Old Habits Hard to Break

Maybe Ms. Genova is used to censorship, hiding the truth and strong arm tactics since her husband was convicted of racketeering as Mayor of Calumet City.

Genova convicted of racketeering

Cal City mayor also found guilty of theft, mail fraud

http://www.ilcampaign.org/press/news/illinois/articles/2001/genova.html

Tuesday, August 28, 2001

By John Dobberstein

Staff writer

------------------------------------------------------------------------

After promising to clean up the dirty, corrupt suburb of Calumet City eight years ago, Mayor Jerry Genova walked out of a federal courtroom Monday a fallen man who will no longer call the shots from a spacious office at city hall.

Genova's road to political stardom caved in when a jury, in its fourth day of deliberations, convicted the 38-year-old mayor on charges of racketeering, mail fraud and theft of funds.

A nervous, tired-looking Genova shook his head once but showed little emotion as U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly read the verdict before a courtroom full of family, friends and onlookers.

Two of Genova's loyalists — city prosecutor Lawrence Gulotta and former public works boss Jerome Stack — also were convicted of racketeering Monday.

Gulotta also was convicted of mail fraud and theft of funds, while Stack also was convicted of theft of funds.

Stripped immediately of the mayor's post because of the conviction, Genova refused to comment on the verdict as he pushed through a horde of reporters waiting in the lobby of the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago.

After Genova took the hand of his wife, Rosemaria, the couple walked onto Dearborn Street, climbed into a waiting cab and sped off.

"What he did, he did in good faith," Anton Valukas, Genova's attorney, said afterward. Valukas, a former U.S. attorney, said he took issue with some of the instructions given to the jury,and he would address those issues in post-trial motions.

Genova and his co-defendants each face a maximum of 20 years in prison, though prosecutors said the three men probably would not receive the maximum penalties. No sentencing date was set Monday.

Valukas didn't answer questions about Genova's promise to reimburse taxpayers for his legal defense if he was convicted.

The city has already paid an estimated $800,000 to Jenner & Block, Valukas' firm, for the mayor's defense. A source familiar with the case said the total bill is probably well over $1 million by now.

The city's insurance agent, St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co., filed a federal lawsuit in April claiming it doesn't have to pay for Genova's legal defense because he wasn't being prosecuted for actions that are part of his job.

Prosecutors, who faced stiff challenges from defense lawyers, appeared relieved as they spoke about the verdict.

"The mayor and city officials have a trust that they owe to the people, and they can't steal funds from them for their personal gain," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon King said.

"(The jury) found there was a bribe relationship between the mayor and the city prosecutor, and the fees were considered part of doing business with the city."

"Corruption has been widespread there for years and years," added Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Masciopinto.

The jury's foreman, James Avolio, a Chicago man with five children, said jurors painstakingly went through the government's complex case.

"We didn't leave anything out. Every single thing, we went over backwards and forwards. ... It all added up to a certain pattern," said Avolio, a retired Continental Can worker.

"Everyone was in there with intentions to do good. We talked about every part of the indictment and asked each person what they felt. We can't bring a conviction if we don't feel it's all there."

Watching Genova's conviction with delight was George Skagerberg, a Calumet City activist who claims he signed one of the first complaints, in March 1997, that brought federal agents into town.

"Genova has raped and pillaged the city for eight years, and I'm glad the government stepped in," Skagerberg said. "He decided to take the corrupt path, and he's paying for it now."

After a three-year FBI investigation, a federal grand jury last year indicted Genova, Gulotta and Stack, accusing them of raiding taxpayer funds and using city employees for their personal benefit.

Genova and Gulotta, 54, were accused of masterminding a kickback scheme that netted Genova $126,000 in payments from Gulotta's firm between 1994 and 1997. In return, prosecutors said, Genova steered city legal business to the firm.

Both men were convicted of mail fraud related to the scheme because Genova failed to disclose payments from Gulotta's law firm on Statement of Economic Interest forms mailed to the Cook County clerk's ethics department.

Genova was convicted on one of the three counts of mail fraud, while Gulotta was convicted of all three.

Genova, Gulotta and Stack, 42, were all convicted on two counts of stealing and misusing legal fees, city funds and comp days.

On Monday, defense attorneys noted the five-man, seven-woman jury did not find that the defendants committed all the crimes the government said they did.

The racketeering charge against the three defendants accused them of engaging in a pattern of criminal activity that included everything from bribery to official misconduct, intimidation to mail fraud.

The charge contained 39 different elements, though prosecutors did not have to prove Genova and the co-defendants committed all 39 acts in order for the jury to find them guilty of racketeering.

As part of its verdict on the racketeering charge, the jury found Genova committed bribery, mail fraud and official misconduct in some of his dealings with Gulotta in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

Jurors also said Genova was guilty of intimidation against a local jeweler, when Genova threatened to pull off-duty Calumet City police officers from a security detail at the jewelry store after a store employee publicly criticized him. But they said his acts did not rise to the degree of extortion.

They said they didn't find enough evidence that Genova hired four ghost payrollers exclusively to do political work for him in 1997. Allegations that he ordered public works employees to remodel his home also did not stick.

The jury said Stack committed official misconduct and bribery by hiring four public works employees to do political work for Genova between January 1996 and September 1998, when Genova was running for his second term as mayor and, later, vying for state treasurer.

But jurors didn't find enough evidence that Stack committed official misconduct and bribery in asking five city employees to buy tickets for Genova's 1997 political fundraisers at three south suburban golf courses.

Witness credibility became a key issue in the four-week trial. Paul Kowalczyk, a public works supervisor and the lead carpenter on Genova's home improvements, admitted he lied to FBI agents, as did public works employees Travis Calvillo and Paul Wolframski.

Stack's father, Joseph Stack, blasted the jury's findings.

"They have a guy who lies on the witness stand, admitted lying to the grand jury and lying to this jury, and they still use him to put my son in jail," he said.

Joseph Stack said he stands by his son.

"I'm proud of him. He's a good boy, and a good father, too."

Stack's attorney, Ed Genson, did not return calls seeking comment, nor did Gulotta or his attorney, Stanley Hill.

U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo, who presided over the case but was in Washington, D.C., Monday on vacation, issued a bench verdict finding Gulotta guilty on all of the charges against him.

"Today is a sad day for the citizens of Calumet City, but it is not the end — only the beginning of a new chapter," Castillo said in his written order. Castillo said the government's case "overwhelmingly" established Gulotta's guilt.

Castillo said he will recommend that the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission disbar Genova and Gulotta, "because of their knowing participation in the criminal conduct proven during the trial of this case."

Castillo said he will also recommend the commission disbar Gulotta's law partner, Ronald Kawanna, for "willfully committing trial perjury during the trial."

John Dobberstein may be reached at jdobberstein@dailysouthtown.com or (708) 633-5992.

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